amarnath yatra

Jammu: The eleventh batch of 5,486 Amarnath pilgrims left a base camp here on Thursday for the 3,880-metre-high cave shrine in south Kashmir, officials said.

They said over 1.31 lakh pilgrims have paid obeisance at the shrine in the South Kashmir Himalayas till Wednesday evening and over 1.75 lakh pilgrims from across the country have so far registered themselves for the pilgrimage.

The 46-day-long pilgrimage takes place through the 36-km Pahalgam track in Jammu and Kashmir’s Anantnag district and the shorter 14-km Baltal route in Ganderbal district.

The 11th batch comprising 5,486 pilgrims — 4,004 males, 1,245 females, 10 children and 227 seers — left in a fleet of 221 vehicles from Bhagwati Nagar base camp here around 3:30 am for Pahalgam and Baltal, the officials said.

For the Pahalgam route, 3,357 pilgrims left the base camp, while 2,129 pilgrims left for the Baltal route, they said, adding the vehicles for pilgrims were escorted by the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).

With this, a total of 53,032 pilgrims had so far left the Bhagwati Nagar base camp since the commencement of the yatra from Jammu on 30 June, a day ahead of the official start of the pilgrimage, the officials said.

The yatra to the holy cave commenced on 1 July from both Baltal and Pahalgam in Kashmir Valley. The journey started with the tradition of Mangal Aarti, worshipping Lord Shiva.

Multi-tier security arrangements have been made for the smooth and successful conduct of the yatra concluding on 15 August. About 60,000 security personnel have been deployed to thwart any attempt to disturb the pilgrimage. In the holy cave situated at an altitude of 3,880m in Anantnag in south Kashmir, there will be a crowd of thousands of devotees on the first day in the Amarnath Yatra which lasts till 46 days.

As many as 2.85 lakh pilgrims had paid obeisance at the cave shrine last year, while the number of pilgrims was 3.52 lakh in 2015, 3,20 lakh in 2016 and 2.60 lakh in 2017.